Tim and Eric's Billion Dollar Movie
dir. Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim
Release Date: Mar 02, 12
Tim and Eric’s Billion Dollar Movie is one of the most singularly bizarre experiences I’ve ever had in a movie theater. For the most part, this is a compliment. In the same way that Freddy Got Fingered has attracted a cult following for the breathlessly psychotic anti-comedy depths it plumbed, Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim’s feature-length directorial debut will find immortality in some circles, while repelling and sickening many more.
When Tim and Eric receive a billion dollars from the Schlaaang Corporation, owned by the sinister Tommy Schlaaang (Robert Loggia), to make Hollywood’s next big hit, they return with a three-minute film starring a Johnny Depp impersonator. Cast out of Tinseltown, Tim and Eric find the solution to their existential crisis in the form of a rundown shopping mall in the middle of the U.S., where the shady mall president (Will Ferrell) promises a billion dollars to anybody who can resuscitate it. This is easier said than done, as the mall is primarily home to a sex shop, a “used toilet paper emporium” and a host of squatters. Chief among them is Taquito (John C. Reilly), a feral child raised by a wolf that inhabits the mall’s food court and is constantly verging on death.
Mercifully far more than a 90-minute collection of the sort of sketches they explored to comedy’s farthest-reaching borders on their Adult Swim series Tim and Eric’s Awesome Show, Great Job!, Billion Dollar Movie applies their personalized brand of inexplicable edits, deliberately stilted performances and gut-churning sight gags to a film that’s less a comedy than a full-blown assault on the senses. The film is one of the most vigorous abuses of the R rating in recent memory, turning the gross-out moment into a stock-in-trade with a few moments so viscerally tactile that “repulsive” seems like an inadequate turn of phrase. (If you leave the theater and don’t dry-heave at the mention of the word “Shrim,” you’re stronger than I’ll ever be.)
At its best, Billion Dollar Movie merges the sly satire present in Awesome Show with a surprisingly coherent narrative for a movie so deliriously unhinged. Much of Heidecker and Wareheim’s brilliance lies within their deep, comprehensive understanding of the workings of movie comedy, and how to rip it apart deliberately. Throughout the movie, for instance, the action periodically halts in order to provide helpful videos that reinforce some of the film’s central life lessons, with video accompaniment that’s clearly filtered through the worst office training videos of the early 1990s. There’s a defined strength of vision to be found here, one that makes Tim and Eric difficult to deny.
However, much like their television work, Billion Dollar Movie‘s refusal to let up on a joke means that some of the flatter sequences drag on for unbearable lengths. Simultaneously, though, the deliberate failure of certain jokes for the sake of a “rule of infinity” laugh almost negate any kind of criticism. More frequently than not, the film is wrenchingly funny, a shocking and audacious flight in the face of every comic standard set to celluloid. On every level, and lacking a more accurate turn of phrase, Tim and Eric’s Billion Dollar Movie is batshit insane.